HITT Tracking, tips? - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 22 (permalink) Old 02-19-2013, 11:58 AM Thread Starter
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HITT Tracking, tips?

I tried HITT this morning for the first time. We normally track on sand/hard dirt and I've been working up to doing more urban style tracking over varying surfaces. Anyway I did a bit of googling yesterday and went out and bought a small garden sprayer and a couple of gallons of distilled water.
I laid a 30yd track over asphalt about 6:30 this morning. One right angled turn and 2 articles.

I sprayed a 4-6 inch wide swath while walking behind, I went back over the track again and laid some food drops and the articles. I then aged the track for about 10 minutes.

When I brought her to the track it took her a few seconds to lock onto the trail, at which point I realized I hadn't really scent padded the starting position.
Anyway once locked on she followed the track perfectly, her nose about 1/4 inch off the ground, took the turn perfectly and found all articles easily. She ignored most of the food drops which she normally does. I usually don't do food drops anymore but did a few (every 10 ft) this morning.

It was a short track and was over in no time but I was very impressed with the method.

My girl does have plenty of tracks under her belt but only on sand/packed dirt and grass, never asphalt/concrete, so I'm quite excited about how easily she transitioned to asphalt with this method.

I purposely made the first track easy, short, wide spray, walked twice, but the nose down behavior is what I was looking for and I think I can progress quickly with this method.


So I have a few questions I'm hoping some HITT trackers out there can help me with.

* My biggest "concern" is visibility of the track. With HITT I could clearly see the track, though my dog never lifted her head, it is something I have had to train out of her because when I began tracking I inadvertently allowed her to track partially by sight. I did lay a fairly wide 4-6 inch spray and only aged 10 mins, so the track was easily visible to me. What sort of spray width should I be starting with.
* How important is the spray width? I did 4-6 inches because I wanted to cover as much of my track width as possible.
* How important is the spray location if I go to a much narrower width, should I spray in a straight line or left right in line with footsteps?
* How to wean off the spray, should I just age the tracks longer or partial spray, for example 3 feet out of every 10, after the corner or on surface transitions.


Any help appreciated.
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post #2 of 22 (permalink) Old 02-19-2013, 05:53 PM
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I go about 2.5 to 3 inches with the spray. Depending on the dog. I extinct the water and food gradually, one or the other, but not both simultaneously. As with any training, extinct one variable at a time.

I walk directly on the spray, then plant my food drops on the way back, double laying the track. In winter, I try to use pavement that is free of salt from de-icing. Usually this is easy to do, by working on the higher elevation of a parking lot, as most are sloped to assist runoff. In the winter, I use a warm bottle, so the water doesn't immediately freeze to the pavement. Also bear in mind that you are shedding much less odor on the track in the cold, and with lots of clothing on. In summer, you can wear flip flops, bare feet, or wet socks, so you really put down a lot of odor.

To eliminate the visual factor, allow the water to eventually dry, and theoretically it should retain the scent. There are some out there that are skeptical of this system, but I have had great luck with multiple dogs, of various levels of drive, food drive, and motivation to track.

I have actually heard some people believing that HITT trained dogs will start seeking out water runoff in search of food or reward...this has not been my experience.

I like the system, especially for "real world" type tracks. I modify it a bit, and start the dog on grass scent pads, to encourage a deep, focused nose. As soon as the dog is solid, I'll run a few short "tails" off the scent pads. I then immediately transition to all hard surface, on pavement, then gradually introduce concrete, hard pack dirt, grass, then leaves and woods debris, in that order. (progressing from least porous/less scent retained to most) moving from most difficult surface the dog will ever track, to easiest. I like to do a lot of surface transitions early on, as that is what sometimes creates confusion for the dog, when going from one surface to another.

I have found it to be:

Easily taught, even to novice tracklayers.

Easy to keep the dog on tracks initially.

Definitely a way to track more easily during the winter, when you are buried in snow like we are right now.

That was quite a rant...so anything I can help you with, just let me know.

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Last edited by Tim Connell; 02-19-2013 at 05:56 PM.
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post #3 of 22 (permalink) Old 02-19-2013, 06:10 PM Thread Starter
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...so anything I can help you with, just let me know.
Cool! thanks!
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post #4 of 22 (permalink) Old 02-21-2013, 11:52 AM Thread Starter
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So on my second tryout to HITT on asphalt, instead of spraying a continuous line, I spotted about 4 sq-inches right then left in front of me and stepped right/left in each spot. I figured this would dry much quicker than a continuous line and encourage the dogs head to move with the steps. This time I did 3 turns, 3 articles each leg about 50 ft and walked the track twice, once to spray and second to lay articles, making sure I kept to the spotted areas on the second walk.
I also sprayed a large 2ft by 2ft scent pad at the start and stomped around on it. I aged it about 10 minute, the sports were still noticeable but not nearly as much as the continuous line I laid the first day. I used only the first 10 ft of the leash.
She found the track immediately and powered down the first leg, I think there was maybe too much scent. She blew past the first corner and I anchored when she was about 1 dog length past. She searched and found the second leg quickly and powered down it found the first article and indicated.
Same with second corner, overshot a bit but stopped herself and found the next leg easily. She lifted her head once and looked down the track just after the corner, so I need to be careful about leaving a visible trail. She put her head back down and kept it down to the next article. Found the 3rd corner perfectly and nose down all the way to the last article which she overshot by about 6 inches, immediately backed up and ended up indicating a bit sideways.
Overall a pretty successful track. I wasn't expecting her to pick up so much scent so I didn't hold her back as much as I would normally do, which probably contributed to the overshooting.
I'm going to start reducing the spot intensity, lighter spray, and aging a bit longer 20-mins to reduce intensity and visibility. Hopefully that will slow her down somewhat.

I'm really liking this technique.
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post #5 of 22 (permalink) Old 02-22-2013, 12:05 PM Thread Starter
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Hi Tim,
so what do you do if the ground is already wet? I tracked this morning and the asphalt was already very wet. I still sprayed each footstep but much lighter than before. She completed the track fine but not as cleanly as I would have liked, there was a few instances of going off track which she auto corrected. I'm thinking that with the wet ground there was too much scent around in general?
I video'd from the start up to the first article, I'll post a link when it uploads. I'd appreciate any comments.

Thanks!
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post #6 of 22 (permalink) Old 02-22-2013, 12:20 PM
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I've been doing HITT with both my recently. I typically allow the water to dry to where I can't see it, and I typically track off lead. Letting it dry I've seen no loss in quality with my male, but some with my female. She has a sharper nose, but also will revert to sight if its there so I'm not surprised at all.

When the ground is wet already, your scent is still concentrated by the water however the path is also significantly wider and less distinct.

I also frequently lay the tracks in flip flops or barefoot to "maximize" how much "human scent" is "deposited" lol

Here is an ok track on asphalt from last month when we just started... b/c of space constraints it was a bit of a curving.. little straight runs. he struggled a bit

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post #7 of 22 (permalink) Old 02-22-2013, 12:27 PM Thread Starter
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I video'd from the start up to the first article, I'll post a link when it uploads. I'd appreciate any comments.

Thanks!
Here's the link, you will see some casting/quartering which she didn't do on our previous attempt on completely dry ground. Sorry about the jerky video at start, juggling too many things.

https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B4NU...it?usp=sharing

Last edited by pfitzpa1; 02-22-2013 at 12:35 PM.
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post #8 of 22 (permalink) Old 02-22-2013, 12:30 PM
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I've never really been interested in any of the other "sports" GSD's are commonly used for, but just seeing this thread, for whatever reason, really has me wanting to try tracking!!
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post #9 of 22 (permalink) Old 02-22-2013, 12:32 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by hunterisgreat View Post

When the ground is wet already, your scent is still concentrated by the water however the path is also significantly wider and less distinct.
Aaah, that makes sense and explains a lot of what I saw this morning where she cast/quartered a lot more than the normally does.

Nice video BTW!
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post #10 of 22 (permalink) Old 02-22-2013, 12:34 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by irickchad View Post
I've never really been interested in any of the other "sports" GSD's are commonly used for, but just seeing this thread, for whatever reason, really has me wanting to try tracking!!
It's what gets me up all bright eyed and bushy tailed in the morning :-). I love that my dog loves it too.
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